When you were little, did you and your friends ever ask each other which superpower you’d rather have – being able to fly, or to become invisible?
Invisibility was my choice. Even at a young age the thought of a secret sleepover at Tiffany was thrilling.
In my young and willowy days I could usually expect a few people a year to walk into a lamp post as I walked by. (Stunned people react a lot like birds that fly into a window. A soft word and a little nudge usually helps them on their way.) When it didn’t happen anymore I didn’t really think about it, until…
One day as a friend and I were walking in Harvard Square, she said, “Look around. Nobody sees us. It’s like we’re not even here.”
And just like that, I realized my superpower had arrived.
For many women over 60, or even over 50 if we’re being brutally honest, society doesn’t know what to do with you, so it just stops seeing you. To fight it, we’re encouraged to spend thousands to look younger. We’re advised to shave 10 years off our resumes. If we talk to a younger man at a party we get labeled cougars (how is that still a thing?).
But after spending most of my life being visible – in my career, social life, romantic life – I had forgotten what fun being invisible could be. My cousins, friends and I are gliding along as we adjust to our new superpower. I asked my hair stylist Emily to cut my hair so short she kept asking “are you sure?” (she still does). I at least look at the dessert menu. I giggle when doormen call me “madame.”
Of course there are ways to be “seen” again. Get active in your community and beyond. Start a second career. Continue your education. Mentor the young. Some of my friends make a point of wearing bright colors, bright lipstick and pretty scarves.
But if you’ve felt invisible too I say embrace it – at least a little. Think of all the mischief you can get into if nobody can see you.